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Wheeling PE teacher has a secret superpower taking him to a world championship!

West Virginia Headlines

WHEELING, W.Va. (WTRF) — A teacher at St. Michael’s Parish School in Wheeling has a secret superpower that is taking him to a world championship! 

Students know him as their PE teacher Mr. Zelinski, but outside of work, he is an ironman! 

Ryan Zelinski just got back from Kona, Hawaii after placing for the 70.3 Ironman World Championship to be held in St. George, Utah at the end of summer. 

From the race in Hawaii, the top 15 qualified per age group and Ryan just slid by and grabbed the fifteenth spot! 

It was rough terrain for the half-ironman with wind and rain. 

Ryan fought over four hours in total: A 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bikeride, and a 13.1-mile run. 

It was his 43rd race but he’s qualified for the world championship two times before, in Austria and Australia, but he’s looking forward to this race on American soil. Third time might be the charm.

Mr. Zelinski went up against 300 athletes in his age group, and placed 62 out of the 2500 that competed in total. 

And while an inspiration, to his students, he’s a humble PE coach. 

“I’m just their teacher and coach. I don’t think they even know I compete,” said Mr. Zelinski.

“The main thing is just, having fun and enjoying what you do. I enjoy what I do. I would not do it if I didn’t enjoy it.” 

You would think he’s tired, but the grind doesn’t quit! Ryan’s next race is in Idaho in two weeks for a full ironman. 

The 70.3 Ironman World Championship will be held in Utah in September where you’ll see Mr. Zelinksi give it his all. And maybe by then his students will catch on to his secret racing life and cheer him on. 

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